Why the Copper Industry is Uniting Against Climate Change

Why the Copper Industry is Uniting Against Climate Change
15 May 2017

By Hans De Keulenaer, director of energy and electricity for the European Copper Institute (ECI)

As the global community continues to realize the very real and dire consequences of climate change, more and more people are realizing that we as individuals need to make positive changes to mitigate this threat. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions has become an important Earth in my hands - 2societal goal for many individuals across the world who are taking action in their respective spheres of influence. Those of us at ECI believe that it is equally important for industries to take responsibility for how they contribute to climate change. Companies must consider how they consume energy, how they impact the environment and how they can improve.

The European copper industry has shown a serious commitment to urgent climate action. We have reduced our own energy consumption by 60% since 1990, bringing European copper industry emissions down to 0.1% of the EU’s total emissions. Now we want to expand this success to the wider economy. We are taking on a leadership role through a united effort to reduce carbon emissions in the EU, an initiative we call “DecarbEurope.”

DecarbEurope will bring decision makers within both the industry and policy realms to one table for an open discussion on efficient energy production and consumption. It will connect technologies, markets and policies with one another in a joint effort to reduce carbon emissions. ECI will support this effort by promoting a portfolio of cost-effective solutions that can each reduce European greenhouse gas emissions by several hundred million tonnes per year. And this is just the beginning.

copperSome may wonder why the copper industry has taken on such a strong role in the fight against climate change. The answer is simple: we are part of the solution. We’re strongly tied to the climate change battle. Copper’s natural properties of high conductivity, recyclability and durability make it the material of choice for efficient energy production. The metal is essential to powering electricity generation through wind turbines or solar panels; to transmitting and distributing electricity to consumers with minimum losses; and to ensuring its efficient use in electric vehicles and energy storage systems, to name a few. Using one additional kilogram of copper in an appliance (e.g., a generator, transformer or motor) can reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime by 100 to 7,500 kilograms, depending on the application, generating energy savings of 24 to 2,400 EUR (or about 26 to 2,600 USD).

We hope that policymakers, stakeholders and industry representatives alike continue to join us to develop and implement practical technical solutions that support economic growth and the transition to responsible energy consumption.

For more information on DecarbEurope and to get involved, visit decarbeurope.org.

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